The attractive new logo seems to be replacing the previous version.
Given the similar design styles, there has been long-standing questions about the influence of CB Macdonald and Raynor on the design team of William Langford & Theodore Moreau. It is known that as a Yale & Columbia student Langford (played on the Yale golf team) Langford at least saw courses such as NGLA and Piping Rock. Additionally, Moreau was trained as landscape engineer. Seth Raynor was a civil engineer, but the two disciplines overlap. The similarities continue when we consider that L&M and Raynor were not adverse to shifting land to achieve their goals. Perhaps it is best if the answer is never known, but it does seem outlandish to think that the two teams came up with very similar design styles completely independent of each other.
Langford & Moreau initiated their partnership in Chicago sometime around 1920 or 1921. Most of their 200ish designs are in the Midwest and unusually for premier architects, a large number are publicly accessible courses…often in small towns. Well, I visited a quintessential small town in the guise of Green Lake, Wisconsin and very attractive it is. At a depth of over 200 feet, Green Lake is the deepest natural inland lake in Wisconsin. The population is under 1000, but Green Lake is well known as a summer holiday destination…the town is not short of money. There is even an Opera House which showcases all sorts of events.
The venerable Lawsonia Links is a few minutes out of town. It is widely thought of as L&M’s best design and best-preserved work. Opened in 1930 as the Lawsonia Country Club, the course was part of the 1100-acre resort which emerged from the Lawson estate. The Lawsons developed the estate over a few decades. After the death of Victor Lawson, the estate was sold and developed into a resort. I believe the new owners developed the course that cost a staggering $250,000 to build. Being part of a resort, the development had to sell housing lots to be successful. The depression ended all hopes of any success. After the failure of the resort the course was used by the government to house prisoners of war during WWII and a dairy pasture! The American Baptist Assembly eventually purchased the property and revived the course. Although, it must be said that unless one wanders over to the Conference Centre etc, the vibe at the golf course is decidedly not religious. However, I did take a look at the magnificent chapel railroad car. I am not a religious person, but the property is something else.
Scorecard of the Links course. I believe the circled holes add up to the 5400 yard course..very good idea.
This was the first stop on my Lake Michigan Tour. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was set straight on the opening hole. A hard dogleg right, the hole then heads uphill to a green daringly mashed up from the left. There is no hiding that this will be big scale golf built with little regard to the principles of naturalism…which is ok with me. That said, this is not a particularly good hole. The drive runs out of room and feels as though something has changed. Below is a look at the green from the 2nd tee. The drop-off on the right has to be at least 20 feet. This was my first game in several weeks and it was a bit of shock to see the green Wisconsin landscape compared to the parched links of the UK.
An odd hole, the blind tee shot on #2 plays over mounds with sand at their base. Once over the crest the hole opens up. However, the first thing I noticed was the handsome dairy barn. I also noted a large depression partially seen in the photo below. Did the fairway extend that far left?
The green is very good, but not a standout example for Lawsonia.
I like the third. It legs right and a bit uphill past some outbuildings. There is an L shaped bunker guarding the right which strikes me as away from the left-centre desired line of approach. This photo is from a spot not far from the bunker.
More uphill golf for the short 4th. For me the course is starting to hit its stride. One may ask if the small open fronts can be used for the ground game. With only one play I suspect it is quite a difficult shot to pull off much of the time even if one is in the correct position. Conditions were a bit a too lush to trust to lengthy ground shots, but with experience I think it is possible.
If one bails wide right there is a nasty pitch over a bunker.
More to follow.